Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 6

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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 6

With just 14 regular-season weeks in the fantasy realm, every Sunday is important.

But Week 6 presents an opportunity for teams on the cusp. If you're sitting at 3-2, a win essentially gives you the inside track toward a playoff spot. At 4-2, playing .500 ball the rest of the way gets you to seven or eight wins, locking you into a playoff spot.

If you've crawled back to or fallen to 2-3, reaching that .500 mark is essentially your only hope of reaching the playoffs. Falling to 2-4 means you'd need a 5-2 finish to have any real postseason chances.

That makes Week 6 huge. And that's why we're here.

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Sports coverage for the week here]

If you've got specific questions, drop us a question on Twitter @CSNFantasy or use #CSNFantasy and we'll give you our take.

Without further adieu, let's get into it:

START

Kamar Aiken, WR, BAL (@ SF) - The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver situation is a mess. Steve Smith is questionable, Michael Campanero is on IR and Breshad Perriman isn't returning anytime soon. Regardless, Joe Flacco has to throw to somebody, right? Enter Aiken. The third-year wideout out of UCF has registered nine catches for 155 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. Those numbers should increase against the NFL's 28th ranked fantasy defense against opposing receivers. Aiken may not be a household name, but he's a solid flex play this week. (Scott Krinch)

Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. DEN) - It's time to stop considering Benjamin's performance in 2015 just a hot start. Though he hasn't scored since Week 3, Benjamin is racking up targets and finds himself in a Browns system that's clearly to his liking under Josh McCown. Yes, waiting for him this week is Aquib Talib and Chris Harris. But the Browns are fifth in the league in passing yards (!) and ninth in attempts. Playing from behind has its benefits in fantasy football, so while I don't expect Benjamin and the Browns to pull off the upset, Cleveland's top wide receiver is going to see volume and production. You have to keep him in your lineup. (Mark Strotman)

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, MIN (vs. KC) - No matter your league scoring, the Chiefs are one of the cushiest matchups a QB can get in fantasy, allowing multiple passing TDs in four of five weeks and at least 250 passing yards in all five games. Bridgewater hasn't yet found his fantasy groove, but he's a good bet to get right this week. Plus, I know so many of you are desperately searching for a QB to replace Brandon Weeden on a Bye, so figured I'd help ease your mind a bit. (Tony Andracki)

John Brown, WR, ARZ (@ PIT) - The ghost of Larry Fitzgerald resurrecting itself has really hurt Brown's production, but we're starting to see the sleeper we all thought he'd be. He caught seven balls in Week 4 and found the end zone in Week 5. Now facing an average Steelers defense I expect the league's highest scoring offense to spread it around, and the means a nice day from Brown. Toss him in your lineup as a high upside WR2 this week. Reaching on him in your draft is about to pay off in the next week or two. (Strotman)

Jay Cutler, QB, CHI (@ DET) - Normally I'd recommend approaching Cutler with extreme caution. This isn't one of those weeks. We all know Cutler has his deficiencies. He's going to give the ball up at least once almost every game. But right now his production with limited weapons is eye-popping among fantasy circles. In his last two weeks Cutler has posted respectable fantasy totals of 17.2 and 17.6 points. A date with the miserable Lions defense and an expected return of at least one of Alshon Jeffery or Eddie Royal has all the makings of Top 10 QB numbers for Cutler this weekend. (Krinch)

Eric Decker, WR, NYJ (vs. WSH) - Decker has been in Brandon Marshall's massive shadow this year but has quietly produced. He's caught a touchdown in every game he's played in this year and is averaging around six targets a game. The Redskins secondary is banged up, and the Jets love to look at Decker, who now is healthy, in the red zone out of the slot. Expect a solid FLEX performance from Decker this week so make sure he's back in there. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN (@ CLE) - The Broncos absolutely have to figure out their run game and the sooner they're able to, the better for Peyton Manning and that awesome defense. They'll have a good chance to get all their ducks in a row against a Cleveland defense that ranks 29th at limiting fantasy RBs and I'm betting Hillman is the Bronco that will break out with the biggest game. (Andracki)

T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND, (vs. NE) - Hilton hasn't found the end zone yet this year and he's surprisingly not even a Top 30 WR in fantasy this year. I'm betting that changes this week with a decent matchup, Andrew Luck's presumed return and just the fact that Hilton is too good a receiver to be denied big fantasy days on a consistent basis like this. (Andracki)

Allen Hurns, WR, JAX (vs. HOU) - Just keep the momentum rolling for this Jaguars offense. Hurns has been a big play machine for a Jaguars team that hasn't won much this year. Blake Bortles is coming off a monster game and there's no reason why he can't keep it going against the train wreck that is the Houston Texans. With a Jaguars offense that could be without T.J. Yeldon, expect Bortles to throw more and Hurns to be one of the beneficiaries. (Paschall)

Lamar Miller, RB, MIA (@ TEN) - So Joe Philbin is out, and in comes a member of the Dolphins' offensive staff (tight ends coach Dan Campbell). That can ONLY mean we're going to see more production, or at least touches, out of Miller this week, right? I sure hope so, and it's why I'm starting him this week in Tennessee. His touches in Miami's first four games went: 14, 15, 10, 8. I expect closer to 18 or 20 as Miami looks to reinvent itself. It's risky, but give Miller a look in your FLEX and hope that a new staff means new production from the third-round back. (Strotman)

Torrey Smith, WR, SF (vs. BAL) - If you've been reading our start/sits in the past, you know I'm a big fan of the revenge game. I feel a bit better about Smith this week because the 49ers offense didn't embarrass itself last week against the Giants. Smith will want to prove to his old team that he was worth the big money and the Ravens secondary isn't exactly the group to stop him. Get Smith in your FLEX spot this week. (Paschall)

Shane Vereen, RB, NYG (@ PHI) - Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo finally used Vereen in the passing game and the results were impressive. The former Patriot hauled in eight passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Vereen is a capable flex player as long as he sees targets, and all signs point to that trend continuing. With Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. both banged up heading into a Week 6 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, expect Vereen to be heavily involved in the passing game on Monday. (Krinch)

SIT

Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. DEN) - Who had Benjamin as a Top 10 fantasy wideout going into the 2015 season? Probably not even his own family. Benjamin has been targeted at least 10 times in each of his past three games in the now high-octane Browns offense led by journeyman quarterback Josh McCown. His sudden rise to stardom is startling and maybe he'll keep it up, but I'm betting against him this weekend. The Broncos defense is on a ridiculous run right now, and have only allowed one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver this season. Benjamin won't be the guy pushing that number to two. (Krinch)

Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN (@ BUF) - Hill is the 20th-ranked fantasy running back right now, but can anybody really make the case that he's a must-start this week, even with RBs like Lativus Murray, Doug Martin, Todd Gurley and Joseph Randle on Bye? Hill is simply too inconsistent, scoring multiple TDs in two games this year, but finishing with less than three points in the other three contests. He hasn't received more than 12 carries since Week 1 and Gio Bernard looks like the better back in Cincy right now. Combine that with a tough matchup against a solid Bills run defense and Hill is a must-sit for me this week. (Andracki)

Carlos Hyde, RB, SF (vs. BAL) - Last time one of us recommended sitting Hyde it didn't go so well. I'm confident lightning won't strike twice though. Hyde, currently the No. 7 ranked fantasy running back because of his Week 1 outburst, draws a tough matchup against the Ravens this week. Baltimore has allowed just two rushing touchdowns and only one player, Le'Veon Bell, has reached the century mark against them this season. I don't envision a less-than-100-percent Hyde doing much damage in Week 6. (Krinch)

Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ (vs. WSH) - The Redskins defense doesn't get talked about enough. They're actually having a pretty solid year, especially against opposing running backs. Devonta Freeman and the Falcons RBs just combined for 26 points against this Redskins unit, but prior to that, Washington had given up just 35 standard fantasy points in four weeks to RBs, an average of only 8.75 a week. Ivory is a risky play this week, even if he should be fresh and healthy coming out of the Bye. (Andracki)

Andre Johnson, WR, IND (vs. NE) - It was nice to see Johnson have a big week against his former team. Some owners may think he's finally got it going. Well, not so fast. I think part of it was the fact that he was playing his former team and now it seems like Andrew Luck could be coming back. Normally that would be good but Johnson hasn't done anything this year with Luck in. I'm expecting the garbage time yards and points to go to Moncrief instead of Johnson this week. (Paschall)

Chris Johnson, RB, ARI (@ PIT) - I've done a double-take each day this week when I've glanced at the NFL's leading rushers. It's 2015 and Johnson is somehow the league's No. 2 rusher with 405 yards. Johnson is running like this is his last opportunity in the league, and it's paying dividends for his career and the first place Cardinals. It's hard to tell if his sudden resurgence is real, but this is one week I'm going to stay away from CJ2K. He's got a touch matchup against a Steelers defense that hasn't given up a rushing touchdown this season. Streaks are meant to be broken, but I'm not placing any bets on that happening in Week 6. (Krinch)

James Jones, WR, GB (vs. SD) - We talked on the podcast about how well this week matches up for Eddie Lacy, but Jones and the GB WRs are not as lucky. The Chargers are the No. 2-ranked defense at limiting opposing WR fantasy production, surrendering an average of just 15 points per week. Jones has been very good all year for the Packers, but he's dealing with a hamstring issue and this is going to be a tough week for him to find the end zone or put up a ton of yardage. (Andracki)

Peyton Manning, QB, DEN (@ CLE) - Only Matthew Stafford has thrown more interceptions than the NFL's all-time leading passer. Worse, his six touchdown passes leave him behind 15 other players. It'd be one thing if Manning was taking chances that resulted in scores more often than interceptions, but he's not. The volume is still there - he's fifth in the NFL in attempts - but you simply can't trust him not to kill you with more turnovers at this point. There's a real chance we've seen the last of a dominant Peyton Manning. I can't even trust him against a porous Browns defense. Life in 2015 comes at you fast. Bench Chicken Parm until he shows us anything.

Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (vs. NE) - Well, it was fun while it lasted. Andre Johnson wasn't going to toss up goose eggs forever, and you get the feeling that Johnson's confidence is on a serious high after his two-touchdown performance against his old team. And no, I don't think it had anything to do with Matt Hasselbeck throwing him the ball. With Andrew Luck back in the fold, Johnson takes on No. 2 duties and that leaves Moncrief as a dangerous play with certainly high upside, but a pretty low floor as well. If I'm flipping a coin, I stay away from him this week against a tough Patriots defense. (Strotman)

Denard Robinson, RB, JAX (vs. HOU) - Shoelaces! While it's nice to see him back, I don't know how good he will be this week in what will likely be a starting role. Yeldon hasn't practiced all week and may sit out, and Robinson hasn't exactly been that healthy either. I'm guessing the Jaguars lean more on Bortles arm than Robinson's legs so I'm not a fan of him this week in fantasy. (Paschall)

Golden Tate, WR, DET (vs. CHI) - Tate saw a ridiculous 18 targets last week from Stafford/Orvolsky and I still don't like him this week against one of the league's worst secondaries. Simply put, keep all Lions not named Calvin Johnson out of your lineup. This team is a mess.

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (@ MIN) - It was an all out war for him on waivers this week. He's likely to get the majority of the touches for the Chiefs with Jamaal Charles out now but it's just not a great opening matchup for him. The Vikings defense has quietly been very solid against the run and should load the box and make Alex Smith beat them through the air. It could get ugly for the Chiefs who were a mess last week after Charles went down. Don't expect it to get much prettier this week for West and the Chiefs. (Paschall)

2017 Bears position grades: Offensive Line

2017 Bears position grades: Offensive Line

2017 grade: C+

Level of need: Medium

Decisions to be made on: Josh Sitton (contract), Eric Kush (contract), Hroniss Grasu (contract), Bobby Massie (contract), Tom Compton (free agent), Bradley Sowell (free agent)

Possible free agent targets: Andrew Norwell, D.J. Fluker, Justin Pugh, Josh Kline, Jonathan Cooper

How the Bears’ offensive line will shape up in 2018 begins with a decision on which the Bears are already on the clock. The team has until March 9 to pick up Josh Sitton’s 2018 option -- or, to put it another way, they have until March 9 to determine if Sitton was/is/will be good enough to justify keeping him and not netting about $8 million in cap savings, per Spotrac. 

For what it’s worth, Bleacher Report ranked Sitton as the league’s sixth-best guard in 2017. If the Bears’ grades of Sitton match those outside ones, then the team probably won’t cut him -- not destabilizing Mitchell Trubisky’s offensive line would be well worth the money in that case. While Sitton turns 32 in June, cutting him would put a lot of pressure on Kyle Long, who hasn’t been fully healthy since 2016. The Bears are hopeful that Long will be back to full strength after multiple offseason surgeries, but releasing Sitton and then signing/drafting his replacement would be a gamble on Long’s health. 

Sitton’s status is the first part of the Bears’ 2018 offensive line equation. There’s also a decision to be made on Bobby Massie, who Bleacher Report ranked as the NFL’s 14th-best right tackle last year but could be cut for about $5.5 million in cap savings, according to Spotrac. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Bears cut or kept both Sitton and Massie for now, then drafted an offensive lineman in the first round (like Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson or Texas tackle Connor Williams) and released one of them. Or they could keep both through the end of the 2018 season. All those options would make sense on some level.

What wouldn’t seem to make sense is the Bears cutting Sitton or Massie and replacing them with a free agent. This year’s offensive line free agent class, without adding any potential cap casualties to it, isn’t particularly strong. By Bleacher Report’s rankings, the best free agent right tackle is Houston’s Breno Giancomi, who’s 27th in that list -- 13 spots behind Massie. At left tackle, New England’s Nate Solder (No. 22) isn’t rated as highly as Charles Leno (No. 20), who we'll talk about in a bit here. 

The only potential upgrade available via free agency would be Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell (No. 2 in B/R’s rankings), who’s 26 and is in line for a big payday this spring -- but that would seemingly be counter-intuitive to releasing Sitton and then potentially paying more money to a different guard, even if he’s younger and has more long-term upside. The Bears could opt for a cheaper guard in free agency who could have some potential working with respected O-line coach Harry Hiestand -- the Giants’ D.J. Fluker (57th in B/R’s rankings) or Justin Pugh (42nd) fit that mold, as would the Titans’ Josh Kline (37th) or Cowboys’ Jonathan Cooper (38th). Or the Bears could keep Sitton and still sign one of those guys as insurance in case Long and/or Eric Kush, who tore his ACL last training camp, isn’t ready to start the season. 

Tom Compton and Bradley Sowell proved to be serviceable backups last year and could be an option to return, even with a new coaching staff in place. The health of Kush, who was missed as a reliable backup in 2017, will be important in figuring out what the Bears' O-line depth looks like. Hroniss Grasu struggled when he was on the field and missed time due to a hand injury, and despite playing for offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at Oregon could be on the chopping block before/during training camp. 

We’ll finish here with some thoughts on Leno and Cody Whitehair. Could the Bears upgrade at left tackle and displace Leno to the right side of the offensive line? Possibly, especially if Hiestand believes he can make that move work. But it’d be odd if the Bears shifted Leno off left tackle and then signed someone who’s older and, depending on the evaluator, not even as good as him. 

This is all probably a moot point, since the Bears’ internal evaluation of Leno is what matters here. Leno is 26 and the Bears believe he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, so more than likely, he’s sticking where he is. At the very least, he’ll enter 2018 with a starting job on the Bears’ offensive line. 

One other offseason objective for Hiestand and the new coaching staff: Keeping Whitehair at the same position. Whitehair’s versatility felt like it worked against him at times last year, with the former regime opting to shift him between guard and center quite a bit from the start of training camp through the early part of the season. That instability seemed to affect Whitehair’s play, as he went through a bizarre patch of snapping issues after moving back to center and struggled to be as consistent as he was in 2016. But Whitehair finished 2017 strong, and keeping him at center for the entirety of 2018 could get him back on track to make his first Pro Bowl. 

2017 Bears position grades: Wide receivers

2017 Bears position grades: Wide receivers

2017 grade: D-

Level of need: High

Decisions to be made on: Markus Wheaton (contract), Dontrelle Inman (free agent), Kendall Wright (free agent), Josh Bellamy (free agent), Kevin White (fifth-year option)

Possible free agent targets: All of them? (But more specifically Jarvis Landry, Mike Wallace, Paul Richardson, Marqise Lee, Ryan Grant, Eric Decker, Albert Wilson, Donte Moncrief, Jaron Brown, Taylor Garbriel, Terrelle Pryor, John Brown, Allen Robinson)

The Bears cannot go into 2018 with a wide receiver core as weak as the one with which Mitchell Trubisky had to work in 2017. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have to go out and sign Jarvis Landry for huge money and then draft, say, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, but adding multiple reliable wide receivers is a massive need for the offseason. A blend of free agents and draft picks seems like the most likely route.

Before we look at this year’s free agent class, a word on Cameron Meredith, who said this on locker cleanout day Jan. 1: “Training camp for sure I’ll be back. Right now it’s staying on pace so that I can do that. Yes, full recovery.”

The Bears shouldn’t count on Meredith to improve off his 66-catch, 888-yard 2016 season by virtue of him coming back from a torn ACL suffered last August. But it’s also not like any production from Meredith will be a bonus; if he’s even close to the player he was two years ago, he’ll be a significant part of the Bears’ offense.

So if the Bears are counting on Meredith to play in 2018, do they absolutely need to go out and splurge for the best receiver on the market in Jarvis Landry? Not necessarily. Landry reportedly wants Davante Adams money (four years, $58 million, with $32 million guaranteed) and might get more than that if a bidding war develops on the open market.

Would Landry be worth it? He followed consecutive 1,100-yard seasons in 2015 and 2016 with a league-leading 112 receptions in 2017, and won’t turn 26 until next November, so yeah, he very well could be. The Bears should have enough cap space to chase Landry, too.

But for a few reasons, Ryan Pace has either never landed nor pursued the priciest free agents in his three cycles as general manager. He splashed $38.75 million for Pernell McPhee in 2015; that was the 10th-largest free agent contract signed that year and has the 13th-highest amount of guaranteed money, per Spotrac. Danny Trevathan got $28 million in 2016 (22nd among free agents), and Mike Glennon’s ill-fated $45 million contract ranked 11th last year (with significantly less guaranteed money).

The other part of Pace’s free agency strategy hasn’t been under his control: The Bears just haven’t been an enticing destination lately. Cornerback A.J. Bouye -- 2017’s highest-paid free agent -- turned down more money from the Bears to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars, for example.

The Bears hope that’s changing, with a promising franchise quarterback, a young and affable head coach and a major renovation to Halas Hall. For all the losing, and for all the gripes outside Lake Forest about John Fox, the Bears did have a good culture in their locker room. Selling the future of this franchise should be a lot easier in 2018 than it was in 2017.

Will that all add up to the Bears signing Landry to a huge contract? Not necessarily. The Bears could make a strong pitch and sizable offer, but he could be lured by another team that’s had more recent success (like the Oakland Raiders). Or Pace could continue to look for bargains in free agency, which hasn’t particularly worked out for him in the past, but then take a receiver with the Bears’ first-round pick.

But perhaps Pace will see his long-term vision coming together, and will see a big-ticket free agent like Landry being the guy who puts the Bears over the hump from winning to losing. He could be the franchise’s Jon Lester, or if you’re a hopeful White Sox fan, Manny Machado.

But here’s a counter to the argument for signing Landry: Kansas City’s offense last year didn’t have a big-time outside target. Tyreek Hill’s versatility and explosive playmaking ability made him the Chiefs’ best wide receiver, but he was able to line up at almost any position on the field. Albert Wilson (who’s a free agent) had the second-most targets of among Chiefs receivers with 62; tight end Travis Kelce was targeted a team-high 122 times.

The Bears don’t have a Hill or a Kelce on their roster. Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen could be the “light” versions of both, which may necessitate a need for better “traditional” wide receivers. That doesn’t necessarily mean Landry, to be fair.

Mike Wallace is 31 but showed he still has something in the tank, missing only one game the last two years while racking up 1,765 yards and eight touchdowns for the Baltimore Ravens. Paul Richardson had a breakout 2017 with the Seattle Seahawks, catching 44 passes for 703 yards with six touchdowns as an effective deep threat. Marqise Lee had 119 catches for 1,553 yards in the vertically-challenged Jaguars offense the last two years. Ryan Grant has never missed a game in his four-year career and is coming off a career best 45-catch, 573-yard season with Washington. The aforementioned Wilson caught 42 passes for 554 yards with the Chiefs last year, both career highs.

Perhaps no free agent receivers have as much to prove than Terrelle Pryor and Donte Moncrief. Pryor, like Alshon Jeffery, found the free agent market weak in 2017 and took a one-year prove-it deal, but instead turning it into an extension and Super Bowl ring, he bombed with only 20 catches for 240 yards with Washington. It’d be a risk, but if he can get the stink of 2017 off him and flash the talent that got him 77 receptions and over 1,000 yards with the Cleveland Browns in 2016, he’d be worth it.

Moncrief is another interesting name out there. He was targeted over 100 times in 2015 and caught 64 passes for 733 yards and six touchdowns as the big-bodied complement to T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis, but struggled to stay healthy the last two years, only playing 21 games and totaling 56 receptions for 698 yards.

One other guy to highlight: Allen Robinson. The Jaguars probably won’t let him get away, but even if they do, would the Bears really want to sign him and then have three wide receivers coming off season-ending injuries (Meredith and Kevin White being the other two; Robinson tore his ACL in Week 1 last year). The Rams’ Sammy Watkins is also an impending free agent, but it’d be a huge surprise if Los Angeles let him hit the open market, so he’s not worth considering for the Bears right now.

We’ll see what direction Pace takes next month with free agency. But expect the Bears to return no more than one receiver from their Week 2 lineup -- Kendall Wright (59 receptions, 614 yards) is probably the only guy who could be back, if the two parties want to re-unite. Wright, as it stands for my grade, was the only guy keeping this unit from an “F,” as in a total failure.

Markus Wheaton, who became only one of nine players since 1992 to be targeted at least 15 times and catch fewer than 20 percent of those targets (he caught two passes), is likely to be cut. It’s unlikely Josh Bellamy or Dontrelle Inman will be re-signed (slight chance for Inman, but he disappeared in December). And the Bears probably will decline Kevin White’s fifth-year option, making 2018 a prove-it year for the former first-round pick.